Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Monday News: Self publish titles made up 25% of bestselling titles...

  • Self published titles made up 25% of the bestselling titles on Amazon in 2012. That means traditional publishing is still dominating.
  • Four independent authors have sold more than a million copies including Colleen Hoover, Bella Andre, and Hugh Howey 
  • 23 have sold more than 250,000.
  • More than 60 self published authors have landed deals with traditional publishers.
  • Ebooks are still the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry with ebook sales crowing 36% in the first three quarters of 2012 as opposed to the fall of mass market by 17% and hardcover by 24%.

I emailed Bella Andre and asked her what she attributed her rise up the charts. She replied:

For my very first original self-published release (LOVE ME, released July 2010 in ebook only) I wrote a personal email to every reader who had ever written to me over the course of five years to let them know I had finally written and released the sequel to TAKE ME, which Pocket had put out in 2005. I do think that helped spur the initial sales of that book, but with my next original self-published release (GAME FOR LOVE, December 2010) I think it was more that the cover and book description interested new readers who had all just started buying e-readers and were looking for books to buy and were open to trying new authors.

Amazon is apparently working on developing work for hire talent that will write novelizations of digital video productions including straight novelizations of original work and fan fiction of those worlds.   paidContent

Bad boys, good girls; bad girls, good boys; girl next door meets new boy next door, small-town boy meets big-city girl; romance at home; romance on holiday; unlikely romance, likely romance; he loves you, you don’t love him; he loves her, you love her; overcoming the odds, first love, based on fan fiction, realistic or fantasy – we want it all.”

How this works is that Random House acquires the book and then instead of providing a money advance, it is offering to advance the services of publishing professionals such as editors, copyeditors, cover artists, distribution, and publicity managers. Once those unspecified costs are met, then and only then, will the author be entitled to 50% of the profit. The contract is for life of copyright. There are no standard reversion rights that were clarified.

The Science Fiction Writers Association took Random House to task over this contract and has indicated that it won’t accept any books published through the Hydra imprint for any SFWA awards. SFWA doesn’t recognize any non advance paying publisher at this point. 

It’s hard to say when Hydra and Flirt would be a good option for the author. The public terms aren’t favorable and if RH is unwilling to negotiate on things like identifying specific costs that are to be assessed against the author or the reversion rights, then it’s not likely ever to be a good deal.

It’s important for authors to do their due diligence. Don’t sign on to a contract just because it’s associated with a big name. We’ve yet to see one of these big houses propel an author forward on the big brand of the publishing house alone. Most publishing houses would even acknowledge that they have no brand power amongst readers. Publishers Weekly

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Patricia Eimer
    Mar 11, 2013 @ 05:33:38

    Why do these publishers even try to pass off crappy contracts? Don’t they realize that authors– of all people– actually do read? They know when a contract is crap and they’re going to not only read it they’re going to tell everyone they know? It’s just dumb business in the long run.

  2. CG
    Mar 11, 2013 @ 07:48:11

    That Random House Hydra contract is such a blatant ‘fuck you’ to authors. They basically own all rights forever and that’s after the author pays for all publishing costs from any royalties they may receive and never mind an advance. Unfortunately, I think there are some authors who want that validation of their work they feel only a big name publisher like Random House can give. Does anyone know if RH is doing the same thing to authors with their Loveswept line? And if so, is RWA doing to protect its authors?

  3. Mireya
    Mar 11, 2013 @ 09:48:48

    Am I the only reader disgusted by the fan fiction trend? I mean, as a reader, I expect to read original work (and by that I mean work that is NOT inspired by someone else’s hard work) and that is what I look for. To me, fan fiction is something that I can write myself, thank you very much… wait, maybe I should now that I think of it… yet again, I am too lazy. Anyway, not happy with the whole fan fiction thing and I refuse to pay a single dime for it.

  4. MrsJoseph
    Mar 11, 2013 @ 10:40:10

    @Mireya: I’m with you. It’s disgusting to me and I don’t pay for it. I’ll read your free FF online…but not one dime shall you receive.

  5. Wahoo Suze
    Mar 11, 2013 @ 12:33:20

    From what I’ve seen in various sci-fi circles, people are comparing the Random House “profit sharing” model to the creative accounting used in the music, tv, and movie industries, where the artists in wildly successful franchises receive nothing because it never made a profit. (Because the accounting structures are set up to skim off all profits to in-house subsidiaries before any profit is declared. For example, I read somewhere that the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy didn’t make back its costs. As if.)

    I recall reading (and I’m not gonna google that either, because I’m lazy) that Kevin Sorbo sued the production company because The Legendary Journeys of Hercules, which ran for roughly one million years, didn’t make a dime in royalties (which he had a share in). The production company apparently kept producing the show out of sheer love for the project, and nobody made any money at all, so they had nothing to pay the actors with.

  6. LJD
    Mar 11, 2013 @ 13:20:59


    I, too, am quite curious about Loveswept vs. Hydra contracts.

    Lovesweapt was (re)-launched earlier, and I don’t remember hearing this sort of thing about it. Actually, I am quite sure they paid advances. But I’m worried that they might change their business model…

  7. Sandra Schwab
    Mar 11, 2013 @ 14:05:03

    @Patricia Eimer: Publishers create these ridiculous imprints and crappy contracts because there are enough people desperate enough to see their name on a “real” book published by a “real” publisher that they will sign anything. Look at what happened with Dorchester: people continued to sign with Dorchester even after 2010 when it was pretty obvious that the company was in deep, deep trouble.

  8. AlexaB
    Mar 11, 2013 @ 14:50:45

    The difference between Random House’s contracts and typical Hollywood studio contracts is that Hollywood does, at least, pay a negotiated salary up front. So Kevin Sorbo did not play Hercules for the sheer love of it; he was paid a weekly salary, the terms of which were negotiated upfront. Same for the directors, set designers, prop masters, script supervisors, etc.

    This is especially true when the production is an actual Hollywood one – meaning filmed in a non-right to work state such as California, under the auspices of a production company that is a signatory to the various guild and union agreements. Each union and guild has a specific pay scale that must be met at minimum. So studios can’t pull a Random House and still expect to use union talent.

    Hollywood does have profit sharing agreements, in which a member of the production may have negotiated rights to participate in revenues. However, net profit agreements – and the Random House contracts sound like a net agreement – always zero out before anyone sees a dime. Net profit means the participants get paid after the studio has deducted their costs. But see the Art Buchwald vs. Paramount Pictures case for a demonstration of how every single paper clip and staple is charged back to a production as a cost of “business.”

    However, gross profit sharing agreements – where the money is split among participants from the first dollar coming in, no costs deducted first – can still be lucrative for the talent powerful enough to negotiate for them. So today, most Hollywood profit sharing agreements are gross, not net. Sign you need a new agent: if he/she brings you a net agreement and expects you to be thrilled.

    Regarding royalties in filmed entertainment: if you are talking about film/tv residuals, those are set by the unions and guilds, not the studios, and monitored by the guilds (or in the case of music, royalties are monitored by performance rights agencies such as ASCAP and BMI.) So Kevin Sorbo should have received a check every time Hercules played on a television screen, regardless of the state of “profits.” Again, not comparable to RH.

    In other words, comparing Random House’s digital-first contracts to Hollywood is insulting to Hollywood – and there’s not a lot of things that are.

  9. CG
    Mar 11, 2013 @ 15:02:22

    @LJD: Of the four digital-first Random House imprints, both Hydra (SF/F) and Alibi (Mystery) are definitely offering this horrendous contracts to authors. Unfortunately, it seems likely they either are, or are planning to do the same to the Flirt (YA) and Loveswept (Romance) lines. I really hope writer organizations like RWA are looking out for their members.

    I’ve got no problem with fan fiction, just like with any other art form, 90% is crap. However, within that remaining 10% there are some truly talented writers working within this field and to dismiss all of it as easy, uninspired, or not worthy of compensation is incredibly narrow-minded in the same way as those who dismiss the romance genre are. I recently read an awesome pulled-to-publish fan fic of Twilight, that if I hadn’t heard somewhere that it was indeed fan fic, I never would have recognized it as such, the writing, characters and plot were that different from the original, which I thought was mediocre at best. And I’m wracking my brain and searching my bookshelves trying to remember what it was and I can’t (maybe I got it from the library?) and this is going to keep me up at night until I remember and when I finally do this thread will be over and done. Argh.

    I want to say I do understand the initial backlash from within the fandom community regarding fan fiction writers putting their work out there for profit, essentially violating the unwritten contract between fan fiction writers and the fandom community, who acted as beta readers and editors purely for the love of certain characters or worlds and the community itself. But I don’t begrudge any author trying to profit from their work as long as said author isn’t misleading, manipulating or taking advantage of any of their fans.

  10. LG
    Mar 11, 2013 @ 15:46:30

    @CG: “I’ve got no problem with fan fiction, just like with any other art form, 90% is crap. However, within that remaining 10% there are some truly talented writers working within this field and to dismiss all of it as easy, uninspired, or not worthy of compensation is incredibly narrow-minded in the same way as those who dismiss the romance genre are.”

    I’m one of those who absolutely refuses to buy anything I know is pulled-to-public fan fic. I read a lot of fan fic and have a few I’ve enjoyed enough that I liked to reread them occasionally, the same as with any of the fiction I’ve paid for. My problem isn’t at all rooted in looking down on fan fic. It’s that pulled-to-publish fan fic, from what I’ve seen, likes to pretend its original roots don’t exist, that it has no relation to the original work it was a fan fic of. I honestly don’t care if it’s AU fan fic – if it was put out there as fan fic for a particular work/world created by someone else, there should be no pretending otherwise. And if the fan fic really didn’t have any relation to the work it’s supposedly fan fic of, why did the fan fic author put it out there as fan fic, unless they were hoping to capitalize on some other author’s fan community?

  11. Mireya
    Mar 11, 2013 @ 15:56:36

    @CG: It’s not a matter of narrow-mindedness. I don’t feel the need to further explain myself, but I do take exception at the use of that word. I’ll leave it at that. I hate when people make assumptions based on short commentary.

    I had forgotten why I had stopped participating in comments on blogs. Thanks for the reminder though.

  12. P. Kirby
    Mar 11, 2013 @ 17:21:13

    @LG: “And if the fan fic really didn’t have any relation to the work it’s supposedly fan fic of, why did the fan fic author put it out there as fan fic, unless they were hoping to capitalize on some other author’s fan community? ”

    While I can’t speculate on the motives of all pulled-to-publish fan fiction authors, my guess is that they first wrote and posted the fan fiction story, and then, when it proved successful and garnered a sizable audience, they decided to capitalize on that popularity. As in, “Gee whiz, people actually like this thing. I wonder if they’d pay for it?” If the story had done as most fan fics do, vanished quickly into obscurity with a just a few readers, the author probably wouldn’t have bothered to do the PtP thing.

    Not defending the practice. That’s just my impression of how it happens.

  13. CG
    Mar 11, 2013 @ 18:43:50

    @LG: See, I think a lot of the obscuring of PtP fan fic’s roots are due to legal concerns rather than trying to get one over on readers. Even if a piece of fan fic is a parody or sufficiently transformative an author or publisher still runs the risk of being sued by the original creator.

  14. LJD
    Mar 12, 2013 @ 09:18:42

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